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The insurance sector is crowded and competitive. Products are complex and the customer journey is complicated. You need motivation to push through these potential barriers. Everyone plays a role in business success, so it makes sense to motivate and reward the whole team.

Insurance Is a Team Sport

On the surface, rewarding an entire team makes sense. From the marketing person to the receptionist to the underwriters, insurance needs a team. But motivating a group, versus only a broker or agent, adds another complication. For example, maybe an annual cruise for the top salesperson and their family was sufficient motivation. But now that you’re looking at an entire team, will that one item create enough motivation?

Likely not.

It’s important to create a holistic experience in which everyone can participate and be motivated. A combination of long-term incentives, like a cruise, mixed with short-term incentives, like the opportunity to select a gift of their choice, creates the variety to appeal to different personality types and different levels of achievement.

Avoid

Cash as king. It seems like it would or should be the ultimate motivator, but cash frequently goes toward everyday needs, diminishing the feeling of being rewarded. In a study by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), 83 percent of respondents said it is a treat to receive redeemable points from work and 80 percent agree it feels like receiving a gift when receiving points over cash rewards.

One size fits all. A points program should be combined with other factors. Simply having one type of reward (even though points can be redeemed for a multitude of items) will likely lose its luster over time.

Everyone gets a turn. It can be tempting to want to treat everyone in the same way. You don’t want to play favorites, but if the team sees this as a “rotation reward,” then it loses its meaning. They’ll feel like they received something because it was “their turn” versus receiving something because they did an outstanding job.

Absolutely Do!

Be timely and specific. Recognize your team for great work when you see it and tell them specifically why you’re rewarding them. Don’t wait until a service anniversary or year-end performance review. Recognition should be just as routine as checking the numbers; it should be specific and done by all members of the team (not just leaders).

Link recognition to the right behavior. Yes, your top person may get rewarded more frequently, but you’ll see better results when you move your mid-range performers. A top performer typically performs well from innate motivation—they’re wired to reach goals. Take a closer look at average performers and create incentives to motivate them.

Rewards aren’t just things. Knowing their work was seen and appreciated can pull people into the team instead of feeling like they’re “just” a support person. It can be harder to pay attention to an entire team rather than one star performer, but when people feel truly appreciated, they’ll want to contribute to the firm’s success.

On a more tactical level, a successful team incentive program needs three key ingredients:

  • Strategy—Start with strategic long-term and short-term goals, then link the desired behaviors to those goals. As you create goals yearly, evaluate the success of the reward program, too. Static strategies don’t work, and neither do static rewards.
  • Regular communication—Make sure you not only share the kick-off of your program (the what, why and how) but also proactively position the rewards through reminders.
  • Outsource technology—Keeping a spreadsheet and going out to buy gift certificates is not a good use of time. People expect apps with choices and tracking, to name just a few criteria. Look for a partner who has mobile-first design that mirrors the apps we all use, in terms of ease of use and features.

*This story was originally published by Insurance Journal, CM’s sister publication.